Become more macho or risk your extinction, men told
By Chris Hastings and Beth Jones
British men are being told to be alert to a condition that could "put them on the fast track to extinction".
Symptoms of the "illness" that has been dubbed "mantropy" include a penchant for pedicures, fruit smoothies and small dogs.
American Maxim, one of the biggest-selling men's magazines in the world, has defined mantropy as "a silent killer which strikes men in the prime of life".
The magazine has been urging American men to be macho rather than manicured and to indulge their passion for cars rather than clothes.
The campaign coincides with research that shows that men and women are being increasingly turned off by media images of well-groomed, feminine-looking men.
More than three-quarters of men questioned as part of the Leo Burnett Man Study believed that images of men in advertising are out of touch with reality.
Sixty per cent of the 2,000-strong sample said that their masculinity was defined by their status within the home and workplace, not by the way they looked.
This research reinforces the findings of a poll published in April which found that 90 per cent of women preferred a man who was "low-maintenance and easy-going".
The Maxim campaign, which began as a light-hearted swipe at so-called "metrosexuality", has received huge support from men. It has become so popular that there are even souvenir T-shirts and screensavers carrying slogans such as "don't manicure the man" and "walk like a man".
The magazine's website says: "If you are male, you're at risk. Mantropy knows no social or economic boundaries, attacking men of all races and tax brackets without warning."
Greg Gutfeld, the editor of the British edition of Maxim, said the campaign had been sparked by fashion images of hairless men.
"It's that sort of thing which is driving normal men crazy," he said. "I personally think television and pubs are the best inoculation against this sort of thing." The campaign is good news for macho heart-throbs, such as Colin Farrell, Bruce Willis and Russell Crowe, and is further proof that the appeal of metrosexual icons such as Jude Law and Orlando Bloom may be on the wane, even if it has yet to have an impact on some stars. For example, Mickey Rourke, a former boxer and the star of the -violent thriller Sin City, has a Chihuahua.
The research into male -values is encouraging advertisers to reconsider their approach. Marketing experts are advising firms to use images that register with a uniquely male point of view.
The campaign has, however, met with a mixed response in Britain. Sam West, who appeared in Howards End, Notting Hill and Van Helsing, confessed to owning a nose-hair clipper, but insisted that he counteracted every smoothie with a double espresso.
"The small dog thing has never been a turn on - you can go too far," he said. "But in my case, as an actor, you want to look after your skin so you can play young parts for as long as possible."
Olivia Williams, who has been in films such as The Sixth Sense, Peter Pan and Valiant, said attraction was about striking the right balance between machismo and metrosexuality. "I am somewhere in between, and can appreciate the merits of both kinds of men," she said. "I am all in favour of men having a regular pedicure. That should be an absolute rule. Having said that, I do not want a man who spends more time in front of the mirror than I do."
Andy McNab, the former SAS officer and best-selling novelist, said there was already evidence that some men were reconnecting with their masculinity in a bid to make themselves more attractive to women.
"I think women want real men in the same way that men want real women," he said. "I do notice that men are trying to be more macho in a bid to attract women."
Louise McIntosh, the manager of the Refinery, an all-male beauty salon in London, said that men who paid for treatments such as Indian head massages, pedicures and enzymatic mud wraps, left the salon "looking unquestionably masculine".